Odd Men Out by Matt Betts
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Review Excerpt: These characters’ journeys from outcast to hero set in a creatively-built playground made Odd Men Out an enjoyable read and Matt Betts an author to follow. The genre mashup between steampunk, alternate history, horror and monster-catching thriller excited me in their introduction, but often let me down as they faded offscreen for another genre element to show up. The focus of the story is clearly on characters becoming heroes, but the above genre elements felt too quickly used and discarded.
Full review: http://www.adventuresinscifipublishin…
(disclaimer, I’m changing my rating from a 3 to a 4 star because of a recent distinction I will make between the two. 3 Stars have elements I enjoyed, but not enough to make me buy the sequel. 4 Stars are books I will buy the sequel for, but which had areas that took them down from being a 5 Star. As I say in my full review, I want more Matt Betts books!)
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Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Took a friend’s advice to make this my Audible pick this month because of Wil Wheaton’s narration and am very happy with the outcome. Even though I am a decade too young to have experienced the 80’s in the way it is highlighted in this book, I still enjoyed the sense of a larger than life video game scavenger hunt with life or death stakes. Would I have liked it more if the nostalgia was focused on Nirvana, Final Fantasy III and Jurassic Park? Maybe a little, but not enough to indicate that the character’s enjoyment was lost on me. I was pumped up just like they were for every secret clue, every virtual battle, the solving of riddles and the like. The pacing moves along pretty quickly as our main character plays through a competition to unlock secrets within a virtual reality game before the evil corporation wins and ruins the game for everyone. I enjoyed its conclusion and left the story with a fond memory of the characters and their adventure. Top-notch job by the narrator.
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My book review for the anthology, Like Water for Quarks, went live on SF Signal yesterday, and with it came a pretty upset commenter. This person thinks I should leave my personal convictions out of my reviews, to put it lightly. I’d like to clear the air as far as my philosophy on religion and politics being included or excluded in my social media presence, including book reviews.
Twitter and Facebook:
To be blunt, I don’t include religion or politics in my Twitter or Facebook feeds Continue reading
Ordinary Folk by Kat Heckenbach
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
The like the idea of a woman struggling to figure out why she has rage issues and a sense of smell for meat that is so advanced that it scares her, but her character was not likable enough, the plot was not surprising enough, the description failed to evoke a sensual connection to the experience, and the climax wasn’t extreme enough for this action/horror story. Also, the overall message of being “ordinary folk” did not really move me or make me feel like reading the story was worth the time. Continue reading
I reviewed this book over at SF Signal today. Here’s a sample:
Children of the Night begins with a preface of the author’s first hand research visiting Romania and historical locations important to Dracula’s life, and the tragedy of that country’s orphan problem. The story begins with a team of Americans visiting Romania to investigate the orphanage system in order to report back with recommendations for aid. The characterization is interesting enough to keep you reading, and when this section ends, the reader is left with a haunting revelation about the vampires’ plans.
Dr. Kate Newman is the main character, and the book follows her struggle to fix a long-broken system of treating orphans with inadequate supplies and methods. Kate is a strong-willed character who shows how much she’s willing to lose to save an abandoned baby. Once she returns to the States, an amazing scientific discovery leads to her heading up a team of researchers eager to cure AIDS and remove the vampires need for human sacrifice. They, of course, don’t like that idea, and life-threatening action ensues. The consequences of this action are where the story fails. After this twist, the direction of the story takes a hard left away from the initial premise. Kate goes to Romania with her priest friend, Michael O’Rourke–whom readers of Summer of Night should remember and root for–and together they try and take down the Vampire Mafia.
What ensues is a cross between Dracula and The Bourne Identity, but fails to deliver like either.
Read the full review at SF Signal.
Other books/stories I’ve reviewed by Dan Simmons:
SUMMER OF NIGHT
“This Year’s Class Picture” in the zombie anthology, The Living Dead ($2.99 for Kindle).
After suffering through some lagging stories of late, Hot Sinatra‘s readability was as exciting as ditching a polka band for a live showing with Sinatra, himself.
My normal genre reading wouldn’t lead me into a crime novel about Frank Sinatra’s lost record, but it’s refreshingly easy-to-read style, and endearing characters really impressed me. Hat’s off to Axel Howerton, and his editing team at Evolved Publishing, for producing another book that reminded me why I enjoy reading. Continue reading
Being an aspiring author means I read a lot, and I enjoy the challenge of critiquing books as I read them. Because of this, I”m not the fastest reader, but I put a lot of thought into my evaluation. It also means I don’t have time to read books I don’t like, and only finish about ten percent of the books I start reading. You won’t see many, if any, negative reviews, so most of what you see will be 4 and 5 stars, with very few 5’s.
Check out my first review of Tom King’s A Once Crowded Sky, a superhero adventure with heart, mystery, and immersive action that makes reading about these characters a moving experience.
SF Signal, 2012 Hugo Award winner for Best Fanzine, is a tremendous opportunity to get exposure for books I enjoy, as well as providing me review copies of books to help me afford my reading habit. I will also be restarting my podcast, AudioTim, so hopefully the combination of the two will lead to more publishers sending me books. That’s not the only reason I”m doing it, of course, but I’ll get into my reasons more later. Stay tuned for my post on Monday where I go into my plans for AudioTim Season Two, and why I decided to start podcasting again.
Chimera by T.C. McCarthy
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I finished this book a few months ago, but have been sitting on this review because I have such mixed feelings about it. I settled on 4 stars because it is written just as well as the other books in the series, but where this one fell short for me was in the likability of the main character.
Stan Resnick is a Special Forces operative in a war that has brought Big Brother out into the open across the world as nations fight tooth and nail for the last natural resources and best military technology. After his wife gives him one of the rawest of deals, all he has left is his job as a mercenary out in the jungle, where Big Brother can’t watch his every move. His best friend is the A.I. in his specially designed suit and the guy he has to work with is a product of Big Brother. Continue reading